How does it work?
A personal trainer is a qualified fitness instructor who will design a programme to help you meet your goals. Whether you’re on the slippery slope to the dreaded middle-aged spread or too long on the sofa has left you feeling feeble, having an expert on hand can help to kick start your motivation and make sure you go about your body-makeover the right way.
Some trainers work from their own premises, but the majority will come to your gym, your home or take you to a park to work out. Flexibility is one of the major benefits of a personal trainer, so if you’re a complete gym-phobic you can choose a trainer who will bring all the equipment needed to your home.
Having a personal trainer means you can leave all the sums and sports science to someone else. To start with, a good trainer will assess your current level of cardiovascular fitness, stamina, flexibility and take your vital stats like weight, blood pressure, lung capacity and body fat percentage. He or she will then work with you to set your short- and long-term goals. Whether you want to tone up, bulk up or slim down your fitness programme will be carefully structured not just to get the best results, but also to try to make sure you’re doing exercises you enjoy and to keep you interested with a variety of different workouts.
One of the best things about a personal trainer is that he or she will be able to answer any niggling questions you have about the way you work out, the mysteries of the gym equipment and some are even qualified to give nutrition advice. So you can start getting smart about the way you work out even when your trainer isn’t around.
An average training session will last 45 minutes to an hour, working through cardio, resistance and the all-important stretches. How often you see your trainer is up to you, but a weekly or fortnightly session can be enough to keep you focussed and motivated to get that body whipped into great shape.
How do I choose a personal trainer?
It’s important to find a trainer who you get on with, but also someone who is well qualified. There are a lot of different bodies that give personal training qualifications, some of the most well-recognised in the UK are:
- Future Fit Training
- YMCA Personal Trainer Diploma
- Lifetime HF Personal Trainer
- FIE Certified Personal Trainer
- Premier Training Diploma
- ACE Personal Trainer Certificate (American Council on Exercise)
- ACSM HFI (American College of Sports Medicine).
If you don’t want to grill your potential trainer on the small print of their exam results, you should at least check that they hold an REP (Register of Exercise Professionals) level 3 certificate and that they have a minimum of £2 million public liability and indemnity insurance.
A lot of gyms have personal trainers on staff who normally offer very competitive prices and will have profiles available so you can check out their experience and areas of expertise. If you have a specialist need, such as cardiac rehabilitation or post-natal fitness it’s worth finding a personal trainer who has a specialist qualification in that area.
Is it for me?
If you’re stuck in a rut – always doing the same exercises and seeing no results – having a personal trainer can freshen up your routine and give you a new burst of enthusiasm for exercise. Trainers are not just for the super-fit though, if you’re a committed couch potato a personal trainer can introduce you to exercise without pushing you too far too fast. Anyone who is lacking motivation, needs specialised advice (for example after an injury) or is intimidated by the gym atmosphere can benefit from the one-on-one, tailored attention.
Good to know
If you’re a member of a gym you may find that part of your joining fee includes having a programme written for you. If you have this option make sure you make use of it because this is essentially a free personal training session.